Seaside Dampa, best fresh seafood ever.


When I first arrived in the Philippines, I was having huge cravings for fresh seafood. I went with a group one night to a wet market near Manila Bay. They told me that it was locally famous for specializing in cooked-as-you-like fresh seafood. My memories of that experience are quite funny because I was still very unaccustomed to the culture here in the Philippines at that time.  I recall being a bit taken aback by the sights, sounds, and smells of the market.

Looking for entertainment after you eat? Enjoy large selections of DVD’s  and toys for the kids. Dampa is in no way limited to seafood only. 🙂

Seaside Dampa is a huge area with privately owned booths lining lane after lane with each booth offering a selection of seafood. It is a very competitive business for the neighboring vendors, who basically turn into hawkers upon spying a new customer. One booth may sell fish, while another will only be selling a specific type of crab. Even though it gets loud and energetic, everyone is always very friendly.  They usually ask me where I am from, or call me Superman (I’ve gotten Spiderman too, don’t ask). It is quite an experience.

What really makes “Dampa” different from other seafood markets? Not only can you buy a great selection of fresh seafood, but there are multitudes of restaurants that specialize in preparing the things you just purchased. Some operate on a theme or cuisine, such as Chinese-style, Singaporean, Japanese and of course, traditional Filipino. You literally pick a restaurant,  hand them the bag of your raw food, and tell them how you want it cooked. It is fantastic. I remember the first time I ate there. I was really, really full. I had feasted on salmon sashimi, sinigang (a sour, Tamarind-based traditional Filipino stew)giant mud crab claws, and enormous tempura fried prawns. Everyone had finished eating, but I decided to try a bite of one of the blue crabs cooked in sweet chili sauce.  To this day, I have never tasted better crab. I finished the whole thing on an already-full belly (no regrets).

Blue crab with garlic and butter.

That was my first experience with Seaside Dampa. I look forward to many more meals there. The translation of Dampa is “shack”, and it is certainly off the beaten tourist path here in Manila, and it may be somewhat scary for newcomers because it is a little on the ‘raw’ side of things. I highly recommend it. It is a cool experience and  the epitome of street food. It is, hands down, the best place to get the freshest seafood prepared on the spot.  Where else can you shop for your food before a restaurant cooks it?  They take the term “freshness guaranteed” literally.

Fresh shrimp and squid.
Some very large crab.
Blue crab still trying to crawl away. Sideways of course.
Fish mosaic.
What? The head has all the flavor. 🙂
The friendly vendors at Dampa are always ready to make you laugh. This one was flapping the gills of this fish as I snapped this photo. “Singing” fish are also not out of the ordinary here.


Too many shrimp varieties to try them all in one go.


Spiny lobster.
Curacha has the flat head of a crab with the tail of a lobster, and is from an area far to the south called, Zamboanga.
Blue crabs.


The big lobster was about a yard long. He’s trying to hide behind that cheeky crab.
Rock fish. Gorgeous.
That is not optical illusion. Those claws are massive.
I asked why they keep the sea mantis inside bottles. It is  because they fight. And also because they  have extremely sharp barbed arms like a praying mantis that love fingers. I’m told they taste like shrimp. The mantis, not the fingers.


I tried to get a picture of these little guys squirting like water guns.
Local Scallops.
Manila clams.
Looks like razor clams to me.
This is a popular edible variety of seaweed.



Hi little shrimp!


What’s a Filipino market without pork barbecue?
Inside one of the local restaurants. No need to wash plates, just use banana leaf!
Salmon Sashimi.
Prawn Tempura.
Pinakbet; a mixed vegetable dish of squash and okra.


How could I forget the phenomenal selection of fresh fruit?  This booth was strategically located near the exit of Dampa, the perfect sweet finish to such an indulgent meal.
Fresh mango smoothie anyone? Something you might not know is that almost every restaurant in the Philippines seems to carry a selection of fresh fruit shakes.
Gargantuan crab claws with sweet chili sauce.
Galic rice… because what is a Filipino meal without rice?
Claw as big as my plate, I mean leaf.



Always smiling faces and happy tummies. Give Dampa a try I gaurantee you won’t forget it!

Seaside Dampa Macapagal Boulevard
Macapagal Boulevard, Pasay City 1309

seaside map

4 thoughts on “Seaside Dampa, best fresh seafood ever.”

  1. I love reading your posts and enjoying your pictures, Jonathan. Thank you for sharing your experiences and observations in such a way for the reader to remotely participate in the moments you share. There is such an ease in your presentation of everyday life and you are able to create great interest in routine subject matter. What a wonderous place … I want to come there and visit Dampa and you. 🙂 <3<3<3


  2. Hi Jonathan. I am an old friend of Susan DLC and family residing in California. I enjoyed reading your blog. I can smell and taste the food that I miss so much. Great pics btw.. Keep up the good work. Glad you are enjoying the sights, sounds and people of the islands.
    Please give my love to them.


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